If you are running several outlets and need to store produce from one day to the next you will need to ensure you have adequate storage.
Fruit and vegetables and other fresh produce are very perishable and will go off quickly, especially in warm temperatures. Wholefoods such as cereals and pulses have much longer shelf lives and will last more than 12 months in optimum storage conditions. However, you still need to store them properly to prevent them deteriorating.
The following tips will help you to keep your produce in good condition:
- All food should be stored in a clean, dry place. It should be out of direct sunlight, off the floor on easy-to-clean shelving. The storage area needs to be cleaned and checked for pests regularly, and you need to make sure that your stock is properly rotated so that older stock is used first.
- Most fruit or vegetables should not be kept for more than three or four days, with the exception of roots, onions, pumpkins, cabbages and other hardy vegetables. Keeping more fragile fruit and vegetables in a fridge could make them last longer, and if you only have limited fridge space you might want to prioritise more expensive or perishable items.
- Dried goods keep longer and do not need to be checked as frequently, but once a box, sack or packet has been opened the contents need to be kept in a sealed container with a tight-fitting lid. You will need to label the container with the ‘best before’ date when decanting.
- Should you find any signs of pests (droppings, chewing on cardboard boxes, insects etc.) remove and discard stock and seek advice from your local environmental health officer or a pest control firm if you wish to continue using the storage area.
- While not essential to the running of a low-risk food co-op, it can be useful to have a good understanding of food hygiene and safety, and the Food Standards Agency’s Safer Food, Better Business offer an excellent guide.